tv Review of British Parliament CSPAN April 20, 2014 11:59pm-12:56am EDT
happened based on the police investigation and what crystal magnum has said. that he could smoke out somebody who would feel guilty about what they thought may have happened in the bathroom. unfortunately, a that did not work. within a week's time, he gave it up. and then talk to the media again. he was crucified for doing it. week.ublicly and that >> the name of the book is "the price of silence: the duke lacrosse scandal, the power of the elite, and the corruption of our great universities." and the author and our guest, william cohan. thank you very much. >> thank you, brian. for having me. >> for free transcripts or to give us your comments about this program, visit us at qanda.org. "q&a" programs are also available at c-span podcasts. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014]
[captioning performed by national captioning institute] next, a bbc review of major events in parliament. after that, "washington post" editor bob woodward leads a discussion on media coverage of national security issues. then russian president vladimir putin discussing a range of issues during his annual call-in program. on the next "washington journal, michael green previews president obama's trip to asia this week. then kaiser health news correspondent jay hancock looks at how the help in this -- health insurance industry is responding to the national -- affordable care act.
"washington journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. the british parliament is in recess for the easter holiday. members return to the house of commons on april 28. "westminster in review" looked at major events from the past three months. topics included how the u.k. handled the crisis in ukraine, scottish independence, and the british budget. bbc parliaments alicia mccarthy hosted this one-hour program, which includes tributes to labour members who passed away earlier this year. this is an hour. ♪ >> hello and welcome to the program. our look back at the big events here at westminster since just
after the year started. coming up, the chancellor unveils his latest tax and spending plans as the u.k. economic recovery continues. >> with the help of the british people, we are turning our country around, building a resilient economy. >> we scoured the chancellor's speech and all the documents for one measure for cost-of-living of living and living standards, and there were none at all. >> also, as the scottish independence referendum edges ever nearer, politicians on all sides argue what a yes vote might mean. there is a first-class row over the selloff of royal mail. >> it is basic math, mr. speaker. not so much "the wolf of wall street." more like "the dunce of downing street." >> this is a success for our country. >> let's begin with george osborne's budget, one of the set pieces of the year, and there was plenty expectation before as
to what the chancellor might do. the chancellor uses his statement to set out his tax and spending plans and gives his assessment of the state of the economy. this time around, george osborne had good news for mps. >> the economy is continuing to recover and recovering faster than forecast. together with the british people, we held our nerves. next year, there will be no income tax at all on the first 10,500 pounds. the 15,000 pound, pension of bonds, people's access to their own pension pots, rights to impartial advice, the message from this budget is this -- you have earned it, you have saved it, and this government is on your side.
the forecast i presented showed growth up, jobs up, and the deficit down. now we are securing britain's economic future with manufacturing promoted, working rewarded, saving supported. with the help of the british people, we are turning our country around, building a resilient economy. this is a budget that i recommend to the house. >> the chancellor spoke for nearly an hour, but he did not mention one central fact. the working people of britain are worse of under the tories. will he rule out a further tax cut for millionaires? nod your head if you will rule it out. come on. just nod your head. will you rule out -- come one -- maybe the prime minister would like to have a go -- just nod your head. >> order!
there may be an influence of the wolves running around, but it is not in this chamber it can be used as in the zoo. >> it is very simple. all the prime minister needs to do is to nod his head if he's going to rule out cutting the 45p tax to 40p. just nod your head. there you have it. there you have it, mr. deputy speaker. there they go again. they won't rule it out. they really do believe the way you make the rich work harder is to make them richer, and the way you make everyone else work harder is by making them poorer. >> ed milliband responding to george osborne's budget speech. the debate on the budget continued for several days in the commons, so as the dust was settling, it was time for other mps to give their opinions. >> this is a resolutely resilient budget, which i believe has some seriously game
changing proposals within it that are going to be a significant and positive impact on the future of our economy for many years to come. >> the chancellor's speech was hugely political, but he didn't tell us about recovery. he didn't tell us if he was trying to help hard-working families. he didn't apologize for trying to rebalance the economy on the backs of the poor. this was a political platform for the next election. >> they are undermining the living standards of people up and down our country! >> the shadow chancellor, ed balls. what did the budget actually say, and more importantly, what will it actually do? i am joined by carl emmerson
from the economic research group, the institute for fiscal studies. it was, according to george osborne, a budget for savers and workers. who were the winners? >> the most significant change was the way pensions operate. what he's going to do, from next april, he's going to allow people over the age of 55 who put money in the pensions, they are allowed to take it out and spend it as they see fit. the winners are those people who want that flexibility, who want to take the money out of their pension pots, spend it, save it, invest it how they see fit. there are potentially some losers. it may well be that annuity prices rise as a result of the budget change. >> we heard ed balls saying that there was nothing in this budget to tackle the cost of living problem, as he sees it. was there anything in the budget to help? >> there were some measures that
were giveaways. a lot of people who get income from savings can benefit from the 10p income tax. george osborne cut that to 0. you can imagine some pensioners who got a reasonable onto money money coming from savings. they will benefit from that tax cut. >> we were told that the economy is growing and had a rate faster than previously expected. how much does that boost george osborne's budget? >> what matters is the long run outlook for government receipts and spending. the important backdrop is that mr osborne still has a long way to go before he closes the gap between the two. there are big spending cuts ahead of us. the extra growth we are getting this year, it is nice to have, but it looks like it is going to be growth we get sooner rather than more growth overall. it doesn't really help. what we can expect is more spending cuts to continue right up to the election and beyond. >> we talked about who did well after the budget.
who did badly? >> his budget is giving with one hand and taking with the other. he took some money from spending departments. he's making public-sector employers pay a bit more for the pension costs of their members. that will be a squeeze on public services. he did a crackdown on tax avoiders. those people engaging in those kinds of activities may well lose. >> carl emmerson, thank you very much indeed for your time. the clock is ticking slowly down for scotland's independence referendum. on september 18, voters will decide whether or not they want to remain part of the u.k. or become an independent country. with the polls narrowing and the election date nearing, the vote has never been far from politicians' minds. the three main political parties in westminster are united in wanting scotland to stay, but the possibility of a vote for independence have thrown up
interesting what-ifs. what would happen to britain's nuclear deterrent in the event of a yes vote? the submarines carrying the uk's trident nuclear warheads currently operate from a naval base in scotland. an alternative site would be hard to find in england. peers from other parties pressed the minister over possible options. in reply, he said the government wasn't contemplating a scottish breakaway from the rest of the u.k. >> my lords, we are confident that the scottish people will vote to remain part of the united kingdom. therefore, we are not making any contingency plans for a yes vote. moving the deterrent facilities would be an enormous exercise. it is the largest employment site in scotland with around 6700 military and civilian jobs, increasing to around 8200 by 2022 with hundreds of millions
of pounds of planned investment as it becomes the home to all royal navy summaries. -- submarines. >> isn't the truth of the matter that if there is a nuclear-free scotland, the technical consequences will mean the end of the british nuclear deterrent at a time of great economic and geopolitical uncertainty? does the government have a plan b? >> my lord, we do not want scotland to leave the united kingdom. we have achieved so much together and are very proud of the contributions scotland makes to the united kingdom's defense. >> would the minister accept, whereas he and i might disagree with regards to the outcome of the referendum and even with regards to nuclear weapons, does he not realize that the attitude he has shown on behalf of the government could well go down as arrogance by the government towards scotland, and does he not feel also that the rest of
the united kingdom are entitled to have an answer to this question because it is a matter that is relevant to us all? >> my lord, absolutely. i wasn't being arrogant. i started off my response by saying, we do not want scotland to leave the united kingdom. >> it does seem a dereliction of duty not to be looking at alternatives on such an important issue. we all know that our ability to defend our islands, should scotland separate, is going to be dramatically reduced. we know whatever happens, should they separate, there will be huge costs. doesn't the minister also agree that there is a real special relationship with the united states, and even this speculation is damaging that? in a nuclear alliance, does he agree that us withdrawing unilaterally effectively half the nato deterrent, something that is causing huge damage?
>> the united kingdom government is not planning for scottish independence and cannot pre-negotiate the details of independence of the referendum. referendum.the to start planning now for a united kingdom without scotland would start to unpick the fabric of the u.k. before the people of scotland have had their say and would require u.k. government ministers to prioritize the interests of one part of the united kingdom over those of others. in the event of a vote to leave the u.k., the referendum would be the beginning of a lengthy and complex set of negotiations between the scottish and u.k. government. >> members of the house of lords debating one aspect of u.k. life that would be affected by a yes vote in that referendum. the chancellor george osborne stirred the debate when, in a speech in edinburgh, he said a vote for scottish independence would mean walking away from the pound. mr. osborne said there was no legal reason why the rest of u.k. would want to share the sterling with an independent
scotland. in the scottish parliament, a minister attacked the chancellor and the labor leader, arguing mr. osborne's speech had backfired. >> in terms of insult, most people in scotland would feel that george osborne insulted the intelligence of the scottish people. that may be the last time, probably the only time, that i will quote "the daily mail" -- "row over pound drives yes vote." the indications we have so far is that the joint enterprise between george osborne and ed balls has backfired on the two unionist parties in spectacular fashion. >> alex salmond speaking.
it was undeniably one wet winter, in fact, the wettest winter on record. howling winds and rain threatened just before christmas, causing chaos. travelers hoping to fly from gatwick airport had their flights canceled. the executive and his staff decided to get as many people home for the holidays as they could, but in retrospect, he said it would have been better to cancel flights. easyjet managers painted a bleak picture of management at the airport. >> what i confronted was the physical proportions. i had to stand on a balcony on a table to be seen to look over 3000 customers to quiet them, and in one of three occasions where i had to address the passengers to explain what had happened, the flooding in the airport.
explaining that they should expect to have some delays. >> things got worse as the day wore on. >> at about 10:45, the police asked all of our staff to vacate baggage claim because of hostility and public order consequences. that is why you wouldn't see any of our staff past 11:00 in the evening. the police took all of our leaflets, our literature, which is part and parcel of our organization. >> we had the rail services down to brighton. we have the rail services down to london. we had places closed for flooding. when you take all of that information, which was what was on our plate early christmas eve, in retrospect, looking back, we should have canceled the flights earlier.
in the future, that is a decision we will make. >> at the start of february, a stretch of the seawall in devon washed away, knocking out the railway line. the line opened in time for the easter holiday, but the local economy is thought to have lost millions of pounds. there was a high price for homes and businesses. the somerset levels in the southwest of england were some of the hardest hit areas, with some houses submerged for weeks. other parts of england suffered, too. david cameron promised help for those affected. >> money is no object. i want communities who are suffering and people who see water lapping at their doors to know when it comes to the military, when it comes to sandbags, when it comes to the emergency services, when it comes to restoring broken flood defenses, all of those things,
money is no object. >> david cameron announced financial help for households, businesses, and farmers. the labor leader asked about redundancies at the environment agency. he said 500 staff were losing their jobs. >> they are people currently helping with the cleanup. similarly on the issue of flood defense, the commission on climate change says we are spending significantly less on flood defense than we should. my question is a simple one, given yesterday's promise to make sure we have a resilient country for the future and spend whatever it takes. if he is reconsidering these redundancies and reconsidering the amount of money the amount of money we invest in flood defense -- >> let me tell me what you we are doing in the future. we have set up the figures all the way up to 2020. we have made capital spending pledges in areas like transport, and in terms of flood defenses,
pledges that no one else is able to match. >> i would ask the prime minister, in the coming days, the government needs to speak with one voice on this issue. the response needs to be speedier than it has been in the past. everyone affected needs to feel like they are getting the help they need. if the government does this, they will have our full support. >> we are deploying the military when we are asked. raising the compensation to local governments to 100%. that is what local communities should have. i'm only sorry that he seeks to divide the house when we should be coming together for the nation. >> does the prime minister believe that flood defense is so important? why did he come to office and cut the budget? >> we will be spending 2.4 billion in this four-year period. i think you'll find 2.4 is more than 2.2.
>> will the prime minister ensure that we don't build on floodplains so people won't be inconvenienced this way? >> i will look carefully at what my honorable friend says. in terms of applications for properties being built on floodplains, the official advice -- that includes the advice from the environment agency -- it is worth remembering that areas like london are part of a floodplain. i don't think it is possible to simply say, no house can never be built on a floodplain. what we would need to do is look at the rules, listen to the experts, and make sure we only build where we can protect. >> a couple of months later when waters had receded, a committee of mps summoned the head of the government agency for advice. fornvironment agency evidence.
>> the prime minister said, money would be no object during the flood relief effort. do you believe that the promise the prime minister made has been reflected in the support provided to you throughout the flooding events? >> we saw very generous additional funds allocated to us over the last few months, 270 million in total spread effectively over two years. it will enable us, we are pretty sure, to bring all of our flood defense assets back into 97% good condition. of course, quite a number of them suffered quite severe damage during the various -- the succession of storms we've experienced over the december-february period. >> the head of the environment agency chris smith.
away from the u.k., there was one international story that dominated the news, the situation in ukraine. after weeks of unrest in the country and the ousting of ukraine's president, the was takenf crimea over by pro-russian folk -- forces in late february. in march, crimea declared independence from ukraine after a referendum, seen as illegal by many in the west. the russian president vladimir putin declared in the moscow parliament that crimea had always been part of russia, a point picked up by the foreign secretary in the comments. -- commons. >> it was regrettable to hear president putin today choosing the route of isolation, denying the citizens of his own country and of crimea partnership with the international community and full membership of a range of international organizations, and russia's right to help shape the 21st century in a positive manner.
no amount of sham and perverse democratic process or skewed historical references can make up for the fact that this is an incursion into a sovereign state and a land grab of part of its territory with no respect for the law of that country or for international law. i will complete this point and give way, of course, to one of my honorable friends. the referendum was clearly illegal under the ukrainian constitution, which states that the autonomous republic of crimea is an integral constituent part of ukraine. >> the crisis in crimea represents the most significant security threat to the european continent in decades and poses a real threat to ukrainian territorial sovereignty. russia's recent actions have also reaffirmed the existence of a geopolitical fault line that today the west ignores at its peril. >> does the right honorable gentleman agree with me that russia is not the power it once
was? it is riddled with corruption and has a failing demographic. it is only a population of 143 million. their life expectancy is barely 60. russia isn't the great bear it pretends to be. >> we do have a big problem, do we? the majority of people living in crimea want to be a part of russia, and they have been a part of russia for 300 years. they also have a right to self-determination. >> russia is based on a kleptocracy. a lot of the corrupt officials around president putin have their money in london. russia's own central bank has estimated that two thirds of the russian assets and money in london is from the proceeds of crime and corruption, and yet, all the organizations from transparency international to anticorruption organizations have said for a long time that britain has a very, very poor record in doing anything about this. >> how do we proceed? we proceed, i hope, diplomatically by persevering
and promoting the isolation of russia at the security council, an isolation so considerable that china, which would normally be predicted to take the side of russia in matters of this kind, decided to abstain. >> former liberal democrat leader simeon campbell. in february, the german chancellor angela merkel came to westminster. dr. merkel was given the rare honor of addressing both houses of parliament. she sat in the royal gallery, often used to host prime ministers and presidents, and became the first german leader to speak there since the reunification of germany. she made some carefully chosen remarks to awaiting parliamentarians. >> i have been told many times during the last few days that there are very special expectations of my speech here today. [laughter]
supposedly, or so i have heard, some expect my speech to pave the way for a fundamental reform of the european architecture, which will satisfy all kinds of alleged or actual british wishes. i'm afraid they are in for a disappointment. [laughter] i've also heard the exact opposite, those who hope that i will deliver the clear and simple message here in london that the rest of europe is not prepared to pay almost any price to keep britain in the european union. i'm afraid these hopes will be dashed, too. >> there was another historic moment in april when the irish president michael higgins came to westminster. his trip was the first official state visit to the u.k. by an irish head of state. he was welcomed by the commons speaker before addressing mps and peers.
the irish president used his remarks to reflect on the shared history of the two countries and the friendship between them. >> we have a fresh canvas on which to sketch our shared hopes and to advance our overlapping ambitions. what we now enjoy between our land and britain is a friendly -- ireland and britain is a friendly cooperative partnership based on mutual respect, reciprocal benefits, and deep links that bind us together in cultural and social terms. >> you are watching "westminster in review" with me alicia mccarthy. still to come, it is loud, rowdy, but is it just too noisy? we take the temperature of prime minister's questions. the mother of murdered teenager stephen lawrence speaks out after a damning review into the police's handling of the case. mps divide over an effort to reduce tb in cattle. >> for hundreds of years, human beings have treated a badgers
appallingly. >> this disease is having a devastating impact on cattle farms. >> first, to a part privatization of a national institution, the royal mail. the royal mail can trace its history back to 1516, and under its universal service obligations, it delivers post across the whole of the u.k. it was privatized last year for 2 billion pounds, but a report by the public spending watchdog the national auditor's office suggested that the government sold the postal service off too cheaply. while the sale did succeed, the government's approach was marked by deep caution. the labor leader challenged mr. cameron's idea of the current share price and condemned the government for getting a bad deal. >> he sold it at 330p, and this morning, the price was 563 pence.
it is basic math, mr. speaker, not so much "the wolf of wall street," but moreso "the dunce of downing street." if royal mail was sold at today's price, how much more would the taxpayer have made? >> i will take a lecture from almost anyone in the country about the fate of royal mail, but not from the two muppets who advised the last chancellor. not a word of apology for 9 billion pounds wasted. the royal mail privatization has gotten 2 billion pounds for the taxpayer, 140,000 employees owning shares, 700,000 members of the public who are now shareholders. this is a great success for our country and something you should be praising.
>> one third of the shares were sold to just 50 investors. get this, there was a gentleman's agreement that those investors wouldn't sell the shares. what happened when in weeks half of those shares had been sold and they made a killing worth hundreds of millions of pounds? in other words, his friends in the city. maybe he can tell us, what happened to the gentleman's agreement about those shares? >> we know why he is asking these questions. he is paid to by the trade unions. mr. speaker, he sat in a cabinet that wanted to privatize the royal mail. that was their commitment. what happened was the general secretary of the general communications workers union said this, "in terms of the last
labour government, they tried to privatize royal mail. it was the unions that brought the government to its senses." once again, they were weak in government because they couldn't carry out their policies. they are weak in opposition because they don't support shareholding by post workers in the royal mail. they are weak because they have no economic policy. they are weak because they've got no plan. >> david cameron and ed milliband in full flow in the row over the selloff of royal mail. as we heard, prime ministers questions can be a rather rowdy affair. bear in mind, the sound is leveled out so viewers can hear what is going on. in the chamber itself, it is often impossible to know what is being said. earlier, i spoke to the former commons speaker. >> i think it has gotten noisier. let me tell you where i'm coming from. i have spoken in many parliaments in the world.
they are like morgues. i do not want that to happen to the british parliament. i want it to be a robust, not so noisy that it becomes showmanship. >> we are told about 60% of people don't like prime ministers questions. are they right to dislike it? >> i don't think they are right in disliking it. i don't think they learn much as a result of it actually. i think a large percentage that do watch it rather enjoy it. they like to see the personalities. they like to see people who are robust who feel they have the answers to all the questions. it is enjoyable. of course, as you know, there are lines outside everyday to get into prime ministers questions. somebody must like it, mustn't they? >> if they don't learn anything, what is the point of prime minister's questions? >> if it was quieter, they would learn much more. much depends on the sort of
questions that are asked. questions have to seek information from a prime minister. tell him that his policies are not being carried out. if the questions were of that nature, then they would be much more understanding and learning what it is all about. >> it can get very passionate and noisy. what was the best way to deal with that? >> a smile on your face, a little humor. calm down a little bit. sit down. resume your seat. that sort of thing. reduce your words. don't lose your temper. put a smile on your face. be just. >> the former speaker of the house of commons. back now to the state of the uk's finances. the government has pledged to reduce public spending in order to balance the books, and this has led to a squeeze on some benefits. among the most controversial, the spare room subsidy, tagged
by its opponents as a bedroom tax. under it, social housing tenants who have a spare room have their housing benefit reduced. the government is keen to encourage people to downsize to open up larger properties for overcrowded families, but labor mps have opposed the plan. >> a poorly implemented piece of legislation. >> this morning, i got an e-mail saying, hi, can you help me? i have one bedroom, two children. we cannot forget the people in overcrowded situations. >> a one-bedroom accommodation for people to move into. the bedroom tax will increase the housing benefit. why does the honorable gentleman not just admit that this is a merciless attack on the vulnerable, on the disabled, and those who are least able to speak up for themselves?
>> there are lots of people living in overcrowded situations. i see them at my saturday advice period. i had two people write to me today. those people are looking for accommodation. >> if there is an absolute need for one and two bedroom rented properties in your constituencies, open up those conversations. please, don't have a winge or a moan in this chamber. get out there, do your jobs, and see what you're meant to be sorting out for your vulnerable in your constituency. >> i have to say i think there was a sense of breathlessness when she spoke, when we were listening to the complacency, and to be honest, the arrogance coming from that honorable lady when she was talking about the kinds of people i see day in and day out who are suffering. they are suffering partly because they can't find affordable housing.
nobody is saying that there is enough affordable housing. the idea of pushing people out of their homes to properties that don't exist, the idea that that is in any way helpful either in economic terms or to the house increases, i think it think itg crisis, i is deeply misguided. >> caroline lucas. i'm pleased to say carl emmerson from the institute for fiscal studies is still with me. housing has been one of the most contentious issues, and the government spare room subsidy, the bedroom tax -- what did the numbers tell us about the impact it has had, or is it too soon to say? >> it is too soon to say. the government is saving it will -- hoping it will save half a billion pounds a year. if nobody moves, the government will save more money. if lots of people move and other people move into those social houses, the government could save less, but they could claim they are making better use of the housing stock.
>> the government has proposed a welfare cap. explain what that does and how much of a constraint it will be. >> it sets limits on how much we will be spending on a large part of the social security and tax credit budget. it excludes state pensions. most other benefits are included. if spending is suddenly forecast to rise above the level, the chancellor, whoever that may be, will have to face a choice between cutting back on benefits or alternatively going to the house of commons and getting a vote on trying to increase the level of that. >> how much of a squeeze are we going to continue to see on things like benefits? >> what we have seen so far is the minority of the austerity the government is planning, the tax rises and spending cuts it is planning to do, and because it has done the tax rises, the majority of the spending cuts lie ahead of us. the majority of the benefit cuts. much of that will come after the next general election.
>> one really big cost is pensions. is there anything the government can do about that? >> the government reforms to say pensions have been to make the state pension more generous per week to pensioners, therefore pushing up the cost. it is also increasing the state pension age. it has done some reforms that in the longer run will save some money, but that is over decades to come. >> thank you very much indeed for coming onto the program. the controversial subject of mps' expenses with culture secretary maria miller resigning her post. misses miller had been cleared of making false claims, but an investigation ruled she had claimed too much. she was ordered to repay nearly 6000 pounds. she was also criticized for her attitude towards the inquiry. misses miller took just over half a minute to apologize to
the commons, a move which attracted widespread criticism. after days of continuing press pressure, she quit her job just before the easter recess. letters sent to republican terrorism suspects have been condemned by mps who believe they are effectively granted immunity from prosecution. unionists said the deal was one-sided. the attacks followed the collapse of the trial of john downie, accused of the 1982 ira bombing in hyde park. mr. downie denied killing four soldiers, and his trial was abandoned when it was revealed he had been wrongly sent a letter telling him he was no longer a wanted man. around 200 republicans are thought to have received similar letters. david cameron has ordered a review, but northern ireland mps warned that serious damage had been done to the peace process. >> the anger in the community, and indeed not just on the unionist side but across the board, is real and palpable in terms of people's feelings that justice has been denied and the fact that this scheme has been characterized by years of deceit
and that it is effectively a scheme devoid of any kind of morality. we, for our part, have made it clear throughout that we oppose and continue to oppose any kind of amnesty. indeed, this is the consensus across all sides of the house. there should be no amnesty for past crimes and terrorism in northern ireland. >> no royalist had access to the investigation. no members of the security service had access. there are complaints from other republicans that they weren't even able to access it. northern ireland was acting during a partial way during the process. that has undermined confidence in the public. it has further damaged people's
respect for the psmi. it has tainted how people will view the rules in this process and has been incredibly damaging. >> i am asking the secretary of state firmly this afternoon to get assurance that families, victims of the bombings, the most hideous crimes -- they seek reassurance that the murders of their loved ones have not fallen to a scheming letter. >> this whole process has defied the public's most basic political expectation of openness, transparency, and good governance. it is little surprise to me, and should be little surprise to
anybody, that so much stress has been caused once shady process has unraveled. i hope there will be some clarity on how this process was so appallingly badly handled. >> this is virtually meaningless. what are those who received those -- [indiscernible] these are all meaningless bits of paper. it just doesn't add up. >> i do regret the expression of a get-out-of-jail-free card. nobody is walking around with that. >> these letters do not confer amnesty. nobody should be in any doubt --
they will not protect you from arrest or prosecution if the police can gather significant evidence against you. they are not an exemption, immunity, or amnesty. something like that could only ever be granted by parliament. those who received letters under the scheme cannot rely on those letters to avoid questioning or prosecution for offenses were information or evidence becomes available now or in the future. >> a judge-led public inquiry has been announced into the work of undercover police officers in england and wales. the home secretary said an inquiry was needed because of shocking evidence that had emerged of police corruption. stephen lawrence was stabbed in a racist attack in 1993. the high-profile case, which remained unsolved for nearly two decades, is seen as having had a major impact on race relations in britain with an earlier public inquiry accusing the
metropolitan police of institutional racism. the home secretary theresa mays told mps she found the conclusions of an independent review profoundly shocking. >> i asked mark ellison to review an answer three key questions -- first, was there evidence of corruption in the metropolitan police during the lawrence investigation? was that evidence withheld from certain inquiries? third, was there inappropriate undercover activity directed at the lawrence family? >> she said ellison had found investigations into allegations of corruption that had been inadequate. >> i also find the record-keeping into police corruption because of real concern. key real evidence was the subject of mass shredding in 2003. a hard drive containing some of the relevant data was only discovered in november 2013
after more than a year of the mps searching for it. as a result of it, ellison has serious concerns that further relevant material, which would show corruption, has not been revealed because it cannot be found or has been destroyed. mr. speaker, the other question mark ellison had to answer was whether there was inappropriate activity directed at the lawrence family. ellison finds that officers were deployed into activist groups that sought to influence the lawrence family. on peter francis's allegation that he was tasked with smearing the lawrence family, ellison has found no surviving records that support the claim. however, given the lack of written records from the era, and since such a task would have rather been in oral rather written form, ellison says he is unable to reject the claims mr. francis has made. >> the statement was later repeated in the house of lords.
peers heard from stephen lawrence's mother. >> i would to thank madam secretary. it was quite difficult for her to be able to present this morning what the findings were. when we embarked on the corruption case, it was difficult to convince other people around me, especially other police officers and even at times the home secretary, that i believed there was corruption in stephen's case. it has taken almost 21 years since stephen has been killed. we have a family. we have gone through all this, and still, there is more to come out.
with the home secretary, and mr. ellison and the review, and mr. ellison and his hard work, we have gotten to the stage. it has been 21 years of struggle, and no family should have to do that. the police service should give service to the whole community, not just one section. that is what i have been campaigning about for the last 21 years. we weren't asking for anything special, just something we should have had just like any other citizen of this country. i would like to thank the lord for bringing it to the house today and all the support i've
had since i've been here. thank you. >> lady lawrence. in march, mps overwhelmingly backed a motion calling on the government to abandon culling controversial badger holes. contracted marksmen were employed to shoot the badgers a night, but a scientific assessment showed they were not effective with the number of animals killed well short of the necessary targets. when the issue returned, feelings ran high. >> farmers are experiencing hardship over losing cattle to tb. in regard to how we as a society treat all animals, particularly protected species, this tension divides the house. many supported the concept of trying to tackle the bovine tb with the strategy.
they did not give their permission to carry on regardless. >> we already know, if you include the policing in the cost, you are at over 4000 pounds per badger shot. >> i regret bitterly that in her comments she didn't condemn the activities of people protesting who may have meant that those tasks took longer. she should have said that. whatever the report concludes about the trials, it is indisputable that what applies to one species should apply to the others. if we cull cattle, then we should cull badgers. if we vaccinate badgers, then we should vaccinate cattle. >> we have to recognize that the case of tb is on the rise. it is doubling every nine years. 310,000 cattle across great britain have been slaughtered. yet last year, between january and february 2013, 30,000 --
>> on that point -- >> 30,377 otherwise healthy cattle were slaughtered, an average of over 90 per day. >> for hundreds of years, human beings have treated badgers appallingly. using them for pleasure. i don't want to be associated in a modern form of culling them. >> i believe vaccination is the way forward. it is a cheaper alternative for the government. it is likely to be more effective. it never runs the risk of making the situation worse. >> it is a devastating disease having a devastating impact on cattle farmers. i met a dorsetshire farmer. he was moving cattle on or off.
this wasn't being caused by cattle. it was being caused because there was a large badger set on his farm infected by tb. i saw another farmer who has lost an entire pedigree herd as a result of the disease. we know if we do nothing, it will cost us one billion pounds over the next 10 years. as i said at the start, while we are considering a range of options, there is no single measure on its own that is the solution to this problem. there is no example anywhere in the world of a country that has successfully tackle tb without also tackling the disease in the wildlife population. >> despite voting to end the cull, the vote was invited on -- wasn't binding on the government, and the environment secretary later announced they would continue but not extended to other areas. the government has moved a step closer to forcing cigarettes to be sold in standard packets. the packs have already been introduced in australia with graphic images and warnings aimed at deterring current and
would-be smokers. the government commissioned a review, and the health minister told mps as a result she would introduce draft regulations. there were many on jane ellison's own side who were unhappy with her. >> we said long-term smokers will die of a smoking-related disease, and our cancer outcomes suddenly lagged behind much of europe. quite apart from the enormous pressure this creates for the nhs, it is a cruel and for human potential. we know that the vast majority of smokers want to quit. two thirds of smokers become addicted before they are 18. it is clear that smoking it is a disease. over 200,000 children aged between 11-15 start smoking every year. in other words, around 600 children start smoking in the u.k. everyday. many of these children will grow with an addiction they find
extremely difficult to break. that is a tragedy for these and people, their families, and the public health of our nation. if this rate of smoking was reduced by 2%, it would mean that 4000 fewer children take up smoking each year. >> as she announced her plans, there were cries of shame from her own backbenchers. >> i'm currently minded to proceed with introducing regulations for standardized tax -- >> all the royal colleges and house experts are united on this. the majority of responses to the government's own consultation stated this. does the minister finally accept that there is overwhelming evidence in favor of standardized packaging and that there can be no excuse for further delay? >> can she tell us why she set up this review in the first place? is it because she wasn't capable of assessing the evidence resolve and making a decision, or is it because she normally
decides what she wants to do and doesn't have the guts to announce it and wants to use taxpayer bodies to hide behind a review? >> decisions like this should not be made by somebody who is unelected and unaccountable. >> my father died from cancer when i was aged eight. i never took up smoking, but many friends did. they are now dead, and i'm still going. what she's doing today is going to mean that more children will not take up smoking in the first place. >> the labor mp barry gardner. mps turned their attention to a story which is good to be with us for a long time to come, the plant to build a high still rely from london to birmingham and eventually onto the north of england and into scotland. in march, plans for a rail link between high speed 2 and usr trains in london were scrapped because of the projected cost. the transportation secretary's proposal was to speed up the project.
before he appeared before mps, he said the more difficult decisions were made, the smoother project would be. >> [indiscernible] >> i said there are obvious benefits to the south. it does release commuter traffic on birmingham himself. you have to look at what is happening with the concentration of business in the south. that has continued and continues to increase. we need to see something to attract business back to the north, particularly major companies. approximately three years. i don't dispute that parliament has the authority to review and rigorously debate this. as i said, time is money. we could really use a lot of time, or we could well gain many